How I studied (and thankfully passed) the Mechanical PE Exam: PART 2

As i said in Part I, when I was preparing for the PE exam I received advice all over the map on how to study. I heard people who spent a year studying and others who said they took a couple days off before the test to begin hitting the books. I felt at a loss for where to begin, how to apply, what materials to purchase, and how much to study. This post, Part II, focuses on what materials to purchase. 


There are a number of sites to help you purchase study materials. The one I and most others use is They have specific study materials and packages that help for a number of licensing exams. Shout out to PPI!. I studied and took the Mechanical PE: HVAC and Refrigeration exam and purchased the "MEHRB" bundle from PPI2PASS. All of the contents of that bundle are in the list below. The core of all my studying was in the Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual or MERM. this categorically separates each section of the exam and further dissects by chapter. It is also the basis of organization for the Practice Problems book. By exam day, I knew the MERM book front to back to find steam tables, pipe thickness, and a ton of other tables. Part III will go into my methodology of using these tools but the point is that the MERM was the number one resource in my stack of books. 

Other key resources were the reference books. "Engineering unit conversions", and "Quick Reference for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam" were my quick lookup tools for equations, conversions, and charts. Along with the MERM, I used my book tabs to mark the ones that were coming up the most when i took practice exams. Because these textbooks were unfamiliar, it took some time to understand and get used to the layout. Thankfully the quick reference book is laid out in the same chapters as MERM. The engineering unit conversions has to be used with a little more care. Attention to units felt like a lost skill in my four years of field experience since I primarily dealt with the same handful of equations with the same units. When I started taking practice exams, I found that misuse of the Engineering unit conversions book was a frequent source of my errors. That said, my opinion of the book is that if it is not closely studied and frequently used, it is likely to cause a fair amount of confusion if not mistakes.

While the MERM is a great resource for broad level reference, nothing was able to replace the application and reference content of ASHRAE handbooks and a few ASHRAE standards. Even more than I expected, I used ASHRAE handbooks and standards on the exam day. On several practice problems, I was hard pressed to find an answer in my current (at the time) repertoire of study materials. Eventually, I would figure out the answer was in the "Refrigeration" handbook, which I hadn't gathered yet. Thankfully, DesignTech keeps a standing library of these handbooks which I was able to borrow for my studies! 

A few others have gone unmentioned but were certainly helpful when I got to the stage in studying where i just needed to practice problems eight hours a day! Without further ado, here is the complete list:

  • Mechanical Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam (MERM)
  • PE Mechanical HVAC and Refrigeration Practice Exam
  • Practice Problems for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam
  • Mechanical PE Practice Examination
  • Quick Reference for the Mechanical Engineering PE Exam
  • 101 Solved Mechanical Engineering Problems
  • HVAC and Refrigeration Six-Minute Problems, Second Edition
  • NCEES PE Mechanical Engineering: HVAC and Refrigeration Practice Exam
  • Engineering Unit Conversions
  • Two Sets of Customizable Book Tabs
  • ASHRAE Standard 55
  • ASHRAE Standard 62.1
  • ASHRAE Fundamentals
  • ASHRAE Refrigeration
  • ASHRAE HVAC Systems and Equipment
  • ASHRAE HVAC Applications
  • Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach (old college textbook)
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning: Analysis and Design (old college textbook)